Swathe of MPs back CWU's call on Royal Mail
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
More than 90 MPs have written to Royal Mail CEO Rico Back and business secretary Alok Sharma backing the CWU’s proposals that the postal service should function as an emergency network during the coronavirus crisis.
At the end of last month the union called for a number of measures, including the provision of suitable PPE for postal workers and that Royal Mail should cease to act as a commercial operation and instead be run as “a vital national service”. The CWU also wants deliveries of all unaddressed advertising mail to be suspended.
The letter to Sharma and Back sent on Monday (6 April) was written by Gill Furniss MP, member of parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, and the shadow minister for postal affairs and chair of the APPG on Post Offices.
It was signed by 92 other MPs, and concluded: “We hope that you can look to adopt the proposals in the coming days and ensure that the dedication shown by Royal Mail staff during this crisis can be repaid with a safe and secure employment in the weeks to come.”
Thank you to the 93 MPs who have written to Royal Mail CEO Rico Back calling for greater protection for postal workers and temporary changes to the service to keep our members safe.— The CWU (@CWUnews) April 6, 2020
Please contact your MP and ask them to do the same. pic.twitter.com/GU009xjc1Y
In an update on its current service status at the end of last week, Royal Mail said: “We will continue providing the best delivery service we can and protect the health of our people, and our customers. We have already made a series of adjustments to our parcel handling procedures. We are keeping our ways of working under review. There may be more changes in the coming days and weeks. We will keep you informed.”
Separately, Royal Mail has been delivering the UK government’s public information campaign to 30 million households, with many households receiving the mailpack this week. It has also introduced a new postmark, pictured below.
The mailpack includes a letter from prime minister Boris Johnson, alongside an 8pp roll-fold leaflet outlining the government’s advice and signposting online for further guidance.
Last week, Royal Mail postal workers also delivered 900,000 letters to those at very high risk of severe illness from the virus.
“The vital mailing provided guidance on ‘shielding’, a measure to protect the clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between themselves and others,” Royal Mail said.
In a statement, Back commented: “As the Universal Service provider, we are playing an important role in helping people, businesses and communities stay connected during this unprecedented crisis. We are playing our part in delivering important mailings from government, which will help every UK household manage the impact of coronavirus.
“Our postmen and women will also be supporting the fight against coronavirus by helping with the logistics for the delivery and return of coronavirus tests for frontline NHS staff. They are delivering letters and parcels for customers across the UK including prescriptions and hospital appointments – a lifeline for those who are not able to leave their homes. Their dedication is hugely appreciated by households, businesses and communities everywhere in these difficult circumstances.
He said reiterated that Royal Mail took the health and safety of its colleagues, customers and the communities in which it operated “very seriously”.
“We have introduced a range of new social distancing measures to avoid contact during delivery. Where an item won’t fit through a customer’s letterbox, the postman or woman will place the item at the customer’s door, knock, and step aside to a safe distance while they retrieve their item. We are also temporarily not handing over hand-held devices to customers to capture signatures. Standard ways of working have been revised to ensure that, wherever possible, colleagues stay two metres apart. We have implemented a new rule that means there will only be one person in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at any one time,” Back stated.
On Monday CWU deputy general secretary (postal) Terry Pullinger also wrote to Royal Mail calling for the upcoming Easter Saturday (11 April) to be a non-service day, so that thousands of workers at Royal Mail and Parcelforce could enjoy a weekend off with their families, as a “massive thank-you… we believe the public we serve would fully understand and support that call,” he said.